Our Patriotic Porch

Back before Memorial Day I switched out the decorations on the porch from spring to patriotic for the summer holidays.  I usually decorate with simple red, white and blue items for the whole season to celebrate Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.  That takes me from May all the way through early September without having to update anything, which is perfect for those already busy summer months.

I added faux ferns to the little vintage cart I got at the Junk Bonanza show, so I don’t even have to water anything.  A cute little patriotic bunting from JoAnn’s makes it festive.  I plan to add some birch logs to the crock, but if I don’t get around to it before the end of the summer that’s ok.  Our little moose statue rounds out the display with that sweet wooden face.

The metal star I already had on the porch works well with this set-up so I left it up.  I’ve traded my various holiday door mats for a classic welcome that will work throughout the year.  It was one of my best finds at Home Goods on our trip to Portland back in April.

The vintage bells I got at the Alaska Chicks’ Spring Market were added to a wreath I already had.  It’s my simple nod to “let freedom ring” and the blooms on the wreath tie in with the door color.  I also added a couple small flags to the potted plants on the steps, but forgot to get a picture of them.

And since I didn’t get a chance to share the spring set up back when it was in use here it is for comparison. J  A few faux bouquets from the clearance bin at Michaels that can double as photo shoot props and my cute new Mr. Bun Bun from Pier One thanks to a gift card and coupon I won during their Enchanted Spring Open House event. A bird house from my ever-growing collection tied it all together.

Do you decorate your porch for summer or for the patriotic holidays?  I’d love to see!  Leave me a comment with a link so I can check out your decorations!

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Catching Up

My lady slipper orchids are blooming in the rain garden!

It’s been a while since my last post because we’ve been pretty darn busy around here the past several weeks.  So here’s a quick run-down of what’s been going on.

The yard is in bloom finally, after a long wet spring.

At the beginning of the year I moved into a new position at work, which requires learning several new software platforms and skills.  It took a while for my old position to be filled so for a while I was basically doing both jobs.  The gal who filled my previous position has been with the company for a few years and worked in our department, but she too had a lot of learning to do in her new role.  When she needed to be out for a bit due to emergency surgery over the spring, I had to help out by stepping back into that role while also continuing to do my new job.  It was a bit chaotic and didn’t leave much time or energy for other things.  Luckily it was only for a few weeks and now she’s recovered and back without restriction so we can both settle into our usual duties.

The new pillows we picked up on our trip look great around the fire pit!

We took a quick trip to visit my Mother-In-Law in Portland, where we did some shopping for the house, attended a beekeeping class (something we’re planning to try next year) and I organized a styled photo shoot.  The Hubs and I also took care of a couple small projects around Mom’s house while we were there.  Since we still had snow on the ground when we left and returned to a snow storm – it was a nice break to enjoy some spring weather and blooms!

The new chicks have traded fluff for feathers and recently moved out to the big yard with the older chickens.  It seems like everyone is adjusting well.

When we returned from our trip we added to our chicken flock with two batches of baby chicks!  These little fluff balls have been living in the garage in a large brooder we made from a stock tank planter I had.  In addition to multiple feedings a day we worked hard to make sure they were handled often as well so they will be friendly when they are adults.  To make room for them outside, the Hubs made a massive addition to the coop, doubling their indoor space and tripling the number of nest boxes.  We’re still putting the finishing touches on that project but I’ll share it soon.

Still buried in snow, this is how the green house looked when we got back from our trip.

I spent many hours getting the green house cleared out and prepped for the season after our trip.  I attended the annual VIP plant sale at my favorite nursery toward the end of April, but the blooms had to hide out in the green house for a few more weeks before it was safe for them to be outside.  While I waited on the weather, the edible crops were all started in the green house and the Hubs revamped the hydroponic system for the tomatoes with bigger tubing so it’s more efficient.  Now everything is growing and we’re already enjoying some of the bounty from our lettuce, spinach and dill plants!

And here’s how it looked after the plant sale – at least until I could plant everything in the yard.
The yard is coming together – here’s a sneak peek at the updates the Hubs made to the egg table and another project I’ll share soon.

We did several projects around the yard as we prepared for the summer season.  I revamped a serving cart for the deck, upcycled an old milk can into a planter and created planters out of old conveyor belt scoops for the new chicken coop expansion.  The Hubs extended his egg table with a spot to store his new smoker and built me potato crates which will double our crop this year.  We sold the old patio furniture to make way for a new dining table and a set of loungers for the deck we installed last summer.  We also started installing a gazebo style covering over the hot tub on that deck.  We hope to have that completed soon – but need to arrange some extra helpers to get the roof on.  Out front, I styled the vintage cart on the front porch for spring and then for summer with patriotic colors.

The new table is a perfect fit for our deck and it expands if we have a big group over.
The firepit is cleaned out and ready for use.
The new lounge chairs (with a hiding kitty) and partially installed gazebo on the big deck.  I’ll be landscaping around this deck later this summer and plan to mirror the rock bed around the other deck.
I updated the wood storage for the fire pit with some cinder blocks that we took out when the Hubs expanded the chicken coop. It was an easy, and free upgrade that also hides the electrical conduit for the hot tub.
I white washed terra-cotta pots to decorate the whiskey barrel tables and filled them with marigolds to ward off the bugs. I also placed small tiki torches on each table as a backup.
I’ve had this thermometer since last summer and we finally found a spot for it right next to the door.

Inside, I changed up a few things, including curtains in all the bedrooms, the rugs in our master bath, swapping Brinley’s kennel for a new entry bench.  Last weekend we took advantage of the neighborhood traffic for a neighbor’s estate sale and had a yard sale to clear out some extra clutter that accumulated around the house over the winter.  We were mildly successful in that goal, but there’s still lots to purge, which is why I only picked up a few small décor items when I attended the spring Alaska Chicks Vintage Market.

I picked up these vintage bells at the market and think they pair well with my wreath on the front door.

Whew – seeing it all written out makes me realize just how much we crammed into a few weeks!  As my Mother-in-Law says “No grass grows under our feet!”  And now that summer is in full swing we’ve got a whole new round of projects and activities planned.  Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see the projects I mentioned plus others that are still in the works!  Hopefully I’ll be able to keep you updated more regularly now.  In the meantime I’ll leave you with more pictures of those silly chicks, who just moved out to the big yard.  🙂

Snack time at the feeder with the fluffy butt club.
We have several Novogens in this batch that will be great egg layers.
And there are a couple Dominiques for some variety.
My favorites are the Easter eggers who will lay greenish blue eggs and have fun little feather beards!
The dogs act as constant security for the cluckers.
They are quite used to us and often come running to meet us at the gate, or investigate our feet to see if they are edible. 🙂
Our flock is now up to 20 chickens so it’s a good thing the Hubs got that expansion completed!

New DIY Shelves for Crafting Storage

This project had been bouncing around in my head for quite some time, so when the Hubs was in the mood for a project I decided it was the perfect opportunity to direct his motivation to this update.  I’d previously had a ladder shelf in this spot holding all my crafting projects, but it wasn’t super sturdy and it didn’t really fit my style so I wanted to replace it with an industrial style rolling bookcase.  I showed the Hubs this and this style to give him an idea of what I wanted and we talked through the pros and cons of the two.  He took a few measurements and within two days I had this beauty.

I forgot to get a picture of it as bare wood, but I’m sure you can imagine it.  This is what it looked like with two coats of the same grey stain I used on the barn wood frames he made me. He spray painted the metal corner brackets he’d picked up for the project and added those to complete the look.  And here it is all filled and in use!

With the new shelves done I was finally ready to hang the “create” art I got forever ago.  It looks great with the shelves and coordinates with the dark bed frame and baskets.  Now that it’s up I’ll have to share the story behind it soon.

My often used paints and stains found a home on the top shelf for easy access.  I reused the baskets I already had and filled in the extra spot with a gym basket I already had as well.

I’m still debating painting the screw  heads on the corner brackets, so I’ll live with it for a while and if it bothers me in a few weeks I’ll make them match.  The Hubs also got wooden dowels to make faux steel rods along the back of the shelves like the inspiration pieces had, but we haven’t added them yet.  I really liked that detail, but because I’m using baskets rather than styling it with decor they wouldn’t be super noticeable, so it may not be worth doing.  I’ll decide on that eventually. 🙂

This whole area has seen several updates since we moved in 4 years ago including revamping the shelvespainting the cart knobs, adding the craft paper rollmoving the day bed out to this space and adding the DIY frame.  I’m loving how it’s all looking together.  And how it compliments the wall-to-wall desk on the other side of the room, which has also seen several updates since this post.  I’ll have to share that soon!

If you’re looking for more tutorials for these style of shelves, check here, here, here, here and here.  It’s a popular style so there are many variations available out there.  I hope yours turns out great!

DIY Faux Barnwood Frames

I recently picked up two great prints from one of my fave Alaskan artists thanks to a promotional sale she was running.  But I wanted rustic frames for them.  I tried a few from the local stores, but they either didn’t fit the prints the way I wanted or weren’t rustic enough.  So I turned to Etsy, where I found several options but again wasn’t sure on the sizing.  The Hubs overheard my frustration trying to confirm size and shipping costs, looked at the styles I was considering and then proclaimed, “I can make that.”  I quickly said OK! and searched Pinterest for a tutorial.  I found this one and made adjustments for the size of our prints.

I somehow forgot to get a picture of the frames before I stained them but I’m sure you can imagine it.  Here’s how they looked after the first coat of stain.

I used stain I had on hand from a previous project.  While it was pretty it wasn’t quite barnwood enough for me so I decided to add some grey I also had on hand.

And here’s the result!  We both love how it turned out.  I had a few spots still to touch up, but this was pretty darn close to what I’d been looking at on Etsy.  It wasn’t true barn wood, but at an investment of around $13/frame it gave me the look I wanted without extra shipping costs.  Plus it was the perfect custom size for what I needed.

And here it is with the print attached.  I just taped it to the back using the backing board that came with the print so I didn’t damage the print itself.

It’s the perfect piece to complete this area which I’ve been slowly revamping for quite a while now.  And there’s a sneak peek at the other project the Hubs did for me recently!  I’ll be sharing that very soon.

The second print is much more colorful and really pops with the rustic tones of the wood.  I hung this one in my cubicle at work and have gotten so many compliments on it.  It makes me smile every day, both because I love the art and knowing the love that went into the frame surrounding it. 🙂

So if you’re looking for a rustic frame I highly recommend this one.  It was simple and easy to do – just 1×2’s, L brackets and some stain.  I’d love to see what you come up with if you give it a try!

Enchanted Entertaining at Pier One

Over the weekend I invited a couple of my gal pals to check out a fun event with me at Pier One called Easter Enchantment.  The event featured displays of Easter decor, entertaining tips, a scavenger hunt and gift card giveaways. We were long overdue for a girls day and I figured it would be fun to be on the other side of events for a change since I recently changed positions at work and no longer coordinate the company’s corporate functions.

After signing in, putting our names in for the door prize drawings and getting our scavenger hunt cards we headed over to the far side of the store to check out the mimosa bar display.

The hostess at the bar made us up some mock mimosas with orange juice and sparkling white grape juice, which were surprisingly yummy even without the real bubbly.  She detailed the various ways you could set up a similar bar for Easter brunch.

The little chalkboard sign gave simple directions for guests to create their own mimosas.  She suggested having a variety of juices and fruit toppings so guests could create their own signature drink.  While she didn’t have them out these reusable place card holders that could be used to label the various options available and fit a variety of decor styles and events.  I may just have to pick up a set for our summer gatherings!

The faux peonies they had on display were so pretty that I may go back to pick a few up as well so I can enjoy them all season long without the allergy side effects of having flowers in the house.  And the fact that I don’t have to water them at all is a big plus!

Next we checked out a table scape display, which I somehow forgot to get a shot of.  I blame the mimosa in my hand! 🙂  After that we learned three ways to create fun Easter napkin folds with instruction from one of the store employees.

The first design was this fun rosette which fits perfectly inside a cup.  They had some fancier versions as well with a secondary napkin serving as the green leaves of the rose.

Our first attempts were pretty good so I’d say this is definitely something an entertaining newbie could pull off!

The second design was this fun bunny shape, which required an egg to create.  It’s also a simple design – just fold, roll and wrap around the egg then tie just above it.  From there you can arrange the big ears to stand up or flop over based on your preference.  We used ribbon to tie the ears but I’d suggest trying twine or ribbon for something a bit fancier.

Here’s my bunny fold.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself!  And I love that he has one ear up and one down!

The last design was a little pocket basket.  This one was a bit more complex, but still only took a few steps.  And because it holds an egg you could create egg shaped place cards to use in the fold, which would also serve as a favor for guests.

The example display used one of their spring plush animals, but the gals and I experimented with the bunnies we’d created and thought that was a fun look as well.  They would be great around small potted plants as a favor that guests could take home with them.

After the demonstrations, we browsed the rest of the store displays chatting about one of the gal’s plans to decorate with favorite patterns when she finds a new place soon, sniffing the scented candles and checking out the rest of the Easter decor available.  There was also a fair amount of giggling at each other as we swapped stories about things going on in our lives.

It was time well spent because three of the four of us won gift cards in the drawings and scavenger hunt, and the forth received a discount percentage for a purchase.  I was able to combine my rewards discount with the gift cards I won to get two of these adorable little plush lambs named Juniper for the soon-to-be foster room and this handsome fellow who will be the perfect accent to the vintage cart on our porch this season.  I also eyed these acrylic tumblers for when we eat out on the deck this summer, but decided to hold off for now since there’s still over a foot of snow in our back yard.  Sigh.  It might be the first day of spring on the calendar but here in Alaska we know spring planting and outdoor living is still several weeks away.

If you’re hosting Easter dinner, get the instructions for the napkin folds above plus a few others and more entertaining ideas over at Pier 1’s website so you’re ready to impress your guests.  While you’re there sign up for a free account so you get invites to their next in-store event and can join in the fun!

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

A Little Change in the Guest Room

Today I wanted to share a little change I did in the guest room.  The shams we had on the back pillows in this room were on their last legs and desperately needed to be replaced. I wasn’t loving the bedding after we upgraded the headboard and wanted something more modern.

Luckily a friend was making an IKEA run on a trip down south and agreed to pick up a couple items for me, including a duvet set.  Although I didn’t want the duvet itself, the shams were exactly what I’d been looking for to coordinate with the throw pillow we got on our trip to Scotland.

The subtle grey ticking stripes pick up the blues in the new throw pillow and bring just enough pattern to the bedding without being overwhelming.  I also like the combination of the stripes on the throw pillow and the shams.

While I was changing out the shams I decided to swap the throw blanket for a fur one I already had.  It makes the space cozy while we’re still in the grasp of winter.  I also moved the vintage crock from the corner by the closet to the other side to balance out the space a bit more, which allowed me to center the bed on the wall.  I added one of the cute little faux trees I picked up after Christmas to fill the corner and add a bit of greenery.

I still need to refinish the dresser, faux shiplap the wall and find art for above the bed.   I tested out the tobacco baskets I planned to relocate here and wasn’t loving them so I’m now thinking about getting one of the big vintage window shapes from Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia line.  But that’s not in the budget right now.  After our recent overnight earthquake I know it has to be something light weight in case it did get shaken off in future quakes so our guests stay safe!  I’d love to hear ideas you might have.

A Quick & Easy Spray Paint Makeover for Desk Accessories

Since I’m transitioning into a new role at work, someone had to take over my old position.  Luckily we had someone within the department who was interested and ready for a change, plus she already knows how we operate and the history of many projects.  She’s had to share a desk at every job she’s ever had so having her own desk in this new position is a big deal for her.  I decided to really make it special with a few fun accessories she can use to set up her own space.  I picked up a cute mouse pad and some note pads at Target for a few dollars and then found this inspirational free printable online to continue the pink theme.  I asked a friend to pick up a simple IKEA frame on her trip down south for the holidays and printed the artwork to fit.

While these couple of pieces were nice, I wished I could buy her a whole new set of accessories to really make her desk snazzy, but that just wasn’t in my monthly budget after the holidays.  Then inspiration struck – I remembered I had a can of gold spray paint at home and because I made my own DIY paper clip jar for my new desk I didn’t need the metal mesh clip cup I’d used at my old desk.  So I decided to give spray painting it a try since it worked so well on my desk caddy organizer at home.

It worked pretty well and coordinated with the mouse pad’s gold dots.  That’s when I knew I was on to something.  I took the business card holder and tape dispenser home over the weekend to give them the same makeover.

The card holder was pretty simple, but the tape dispenser needed a good cleaning along the little groove and a bit of taping off so the tooth part where you tear the tape didn’t get painted.  Now both look like the fancy desk accessories you buy new at the stores, rather than the boring bankers black they used to be.

Finally I painted an IKEA metal bucket I had on hand for a pen cup to complete the set.  I had run out of spray paint at that point and had to buy another can, which wasn’t an exact match to the first but it all still works together.

When I presented her with the spread she was very surprised and loved the whole set.  She officially starts the new position next month and is excited to get her space set up with her new bling.  It was a simple way to give her an extra little bit of motivation for the challenges she will encounter as she learns her new duties and it didn’t ‘break the bank’! 😉